BENTO 101: Putting Some Fun in your Lunchbox

Posted by Lynley Edwards at

For most mums and dads, prepping school lunches is a chore we’d rather do without. It’s even less fun when lunchboxes consistently come home with only half their contents eaten! Whether you’re dealing with picky eaters, little ones who’d rather rush out to play than sit down to lunch, or kids who are simply bored with the same old thing every day – it’s time to put some thought into how you present food. It really does make all the difference! We’re not talking about needing a degree in fine art or an extra hour in the day here. With just a little inspiration and a few ‘tools of the trade’, anyone can put together something fun, healthy, and rubbish-free. And who knows…it might even encourage the kids to get creative and make their own lunch!    




Do something fancy with the sandwich

Think outside the square! Cut out ‘peep holes’ with a cookie cutter, use special shaped sandwich cutters, pop the ‘filling’ on the outside, or thread the sandwich ingredients onto a skewer! You could even make ‘sushi’ sandwiches by trimming the crusts from bread, adding your filling, then rolling them up and stacking them in the lunchbox. And don’t forget to add interest by varying the carbs: pita bread, wholemeal buns, fruit loaf, toasted sandwiches, pasta, and rice balls are all great alternatives.  



Cut up fruit and veg and arrange it neatly

This helps with portion control, attractiveness, and ease of eating. A whole apple can be very intimidating for young children. It’s super easy to cut it up and alternate the slices to create stripes. Or create a mandarin ‘cupcake’ by over-lapping segments in a baking cup and adding a grape or berry in the middle. Again, cookie cutters or specialist bento cutters can be used to make interesting shapes to tempt fussy eaters.


[image 1:Wendolonia. Image 3:Meetthedubiens]


Get rid of ugly packaging and let the food shine!

 Food cups, silicone baking cups, and mini containers are great for creating divisions in a lunchbox, and they add colour while eliminating the need for plastic wrap.

 A colourful, sectioned bento lunchbox is also a good idea for creating quick and easy lunches. Leak-proof containers for yoghurt, dips, and sauces are something you’ll find you use over and over again.



Throw in a cute food pick or two to add some personality

Food picks are the quickest and simplest way to add colour and personality to a lunchbox. Pop them on top of a muffin, stick them into fruit, spell out a message, or use them to hold together rolled-up deli meat. Kids love using picks to eat chopped-up fruit or cheese cubes.



Pack it all in tightly

 Once you’ve made some effort to create a fun lunch, you don’t want it all messed up by being juggled around in a school bag! Food can only move if there is space, so choose a smaller lunchbox that you can fill to the brim rather than a monster-sized box that will have everything rattling around getting mashed up and bruised. Any little gaps can be filled in with cherry tomatoes, bliss balls, cheese cubes, grapes, berries, dried fruit etc.



[All the bento lunchboxes and accessories featured in this article are from The Lunchbox Queen. Unless stated otherwise, all images are the property of The Lunchbox Queen].

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